Code Of Hammurabi Laws Compared To Today's Laws

Compare and contrast the Code of Hammurabi and today's legal system.

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Like the laws of today, Hammurabi's Code lays out specific punishments for specific crimes. This is meant to create equity in the way that punishments are meted out. Both the Babylonians and today's society have a strong desire for the application of justice. That is ultimately why legal systems are...

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Like the laws of today, Hammurabi's Code lays out specific punishments for specific crimes. This is meant to create equity in the way that punishments are meted out. Both the Babylonians and today's society have a strong desire for the application of justice. That is ultimately why legal systems are created. In a just society, people need to be held accountable for their actions which harm others. A legal system helps to ensure this.

However, unlike today, Babylonian punishments vary depending on one's social class. While in practice, certain populations today are disproportionally punished for some crimes, this is not enshrined in official law. The modern legal code does not differentiate between social class.

Like today's legal system, Hammurabi's Code lays out the way that trials are conducted. It spells out the requirement for witnesses and impartial judges. Unlike today, though, an accuser in Babylonian times was responsible for bringing the accused to court rather than law enforcement.

A major difference between Hammurabi's Code and today's legal system has to do with the form of punishments. It is true that some punishments are very similar. Today, some civil and criminal infractions result in the payment of damages and restitution. There are examples of this all over Hammurabi's Code. However, most crimes today result in incarceration. The Babylonians did not use incarceration as a common punishment.

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Hammurabi's Code is much more brutal than modern law codes. We see this in the famous "an eye for an eye" quotation: there's a kind of unrelenting severity which runs throughout that Code, and when reading through it, you see the death penalty invoked a lot. In addition, you will find that Hammurabi's Code was created for a slave holding society. Note, too, that there is no such thing as equality before the law: people were treated very differently based on their status in society.

That being said, there are similarities. Hammurabi's Code, like modern law codes, had the same fundamental purpose: to maintain law and order, punish wrongdoing, and provide for justice. They also both show an awareness concerning the potential for false accusations. Much like modern legal codes, Hammurabi's Code extended across both criminal and civil law.

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The Code of Hammurabi is one of the earliest written legal systems. Like modern legal codes, it attempts to set out classes of crimes and appropriate punishments in a fair and just manner.

The main distinction is that the Code of Hammurabi is created for a smaller and less complex society than ours and goes into great detail on some issues that we leave to the free market, such as wages, but is often less intricate and less reliant on precedent than our own. It assesses penalties in terms of retribution and restitution; incarceration, which is a major feature of our system, is not a standard punishment.

Another major difference is that laws apply differently to different types of people. Our legal system makes quite limited distinctions between minors and adults and also has specific sections addressing diminished responsibility (the mentally ill, people with dementia, or people otherwise incapacitated or disabled), while Mesopotamian laws distinguish between men and women, slaves and free, and rich and poor, with different laws or penalties applying to each class of person.

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There are some similarities and differences between Hammurabi’s Code and today’s laws. One similarity is that both sets of laws are written laws.  These laws cover many similar topics. For example, they include laws dealing with family matters, assault, and compensation. The purpose of the laws was to discourage people from treating other people poorly and from breaking the law. Some laws were considered to be reasonable. For example, if a person owed money to somebody, but a disaster occurred and that person couldn’t harvest any grain, then that person wouldn’t have to give any grain to the person to whom he owed money and also wouldn’t have to pay any rent for that year.

There are some differences between the laws. The laws treated people differently. The laws treated the wealthy differently than the average person. The concept of an eye for an eye is an example. If a man took the eye of a wealthy person, that man would lose his eye. If the man took the eye of a common man, he would have to pay a monetary amount. Another difference is that an accuser was required to bring the accused to court. Additionally, if a person jumped into the Euphrates River and returned to shore, that person was considered to be innocent. We don't operate like this in our legal system.

Both sets of laws have similarities and differences.

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I think the best way to help you would be to point you to some links for research.  Hammurabi's code is often referred to as the basis for our modern legal system.

Here you go:

http://www.enotes.com/wests-law-encyclopedia/code-hammurabi

http://www.enotes.com/history/discuss/hammurabis-code-compared-today-96731

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